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Fun exercises to improve your body coordination

Doing coordination exercises like the dead bug, medicine ball squat throws and tai chi can help improve your hand-eye coordination, body balance and flexibility

Fast feet workouts like jumping jacks are a great way to improve your coordination, agility, rhythm and balance.
Fast feet workouts like jumping jacks are a great way to improve your coordination, agility, rhythm and balance. (Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)

Over time, what lasts more than athleticism, muscular strength and size, speed, and explosive power is body coordination. The ability to make simple moves and use all the limbs in the way that they are supposed to can go a long way in making sure you lead a healthy life with fewer accidents and injuries during physical activity. So, along with the bench presses, the bicep curls and the squats and leg raises, there are a variety of fun exercises that can help your body wire itself in the right way.

Also read: Aerobic or anaerobic exercises: Which one should you do?

The Physiopedia website defines coordination as “the ability to select the right muscle at the right time with proper intensity to achieve proper action.” Coordinated movement, the definition states, is characterised by “appropriate speed, distance, direction, timing and muscular tension.”  

There are three kinds of coordinated movements in the human body. When one writes, or does intricate work like sketching, those are your fine motor skills being put to use. Then come gross motor skills, which include moving large muscle groups, for activities like running or swimming. And then there are the hand-eye coordinated skills necessary for an activity like catching a ball. A lot of these movements are not exclusive because one might be catching a ball while simultaneously moving large muscle groups. 

Medicine Ball Squat Throws
The real selling point here is how coordination training involves something as simple as playing catch. That would mean maintaining hand-eye coordination while running in the direction of the ball. An example of this in a gym would be doing medicine ball squat throws, where one throws a light medicine ball at a wall every time they are on the way up from a squat, catching it, performing the squat and repeating.

“People can move their bodies in a versatile way, proactively react, and position their body while interacting with teammates. Moreover, throwing and catching the ball alone or with others will improve hand-eye coordination, body balance, and flexibility while letting yourselves react with the moving trends of the ball,” says an article on on the benefits of this particular exercise.

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Also read: Fitness: What is Zone 2 training and why you need to do it

Dead Bug
While a medicine ball squat throw might be challenging for many, a simpler coordination exercise is a dead bug done lying down on the floor. Probably the easiest exercise to train your brain to move in a particular way. To do the dead bug bring your legs up with the knees bent at 90 degrees and the arms raised as well. Now extend the left knee forward while extending the right arm and then vice versa. This is also one of the most underrated core exercises.

“At its core the dead bug is an anti-extension exercise. But it trains all 360 degrees of your core— the anterior and posterior core, the obliques, and your hips. Making it the total package of core exercises,” says an article titled ‘Get Movin’ In All The Right Directions By Playin’ ‘dead’.

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Tai Chi
Skipping or jump rope, swimming, playing table tennis and even learning a dance form are all good activities to improve coordination. The martial art Tai Chi stands out as one of the top activities to achieve this, especially for patients with Parkinson’s disease. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine says that it “appears to reduce balance impairments in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease, with additional benefits of improved functional capacity and reduced falls.”

Tennis Ball Throws
Counting backwards from 100 while you are on a walk is also a great way to employ your brain while you are doing a physical activity. Instagram page @rehabexercise has an excellent set of drills, which merely require a tennis ball and a wall. The below video demonstrates the drills efficiently. In it, the trainer combines single leg unilateral training with catching, bouncing and picking up the tennis ball at various angles while executing the move. Having done this particular drill many times, it is my go-to on days when I want to work on my balance and stability.

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Toe Taps and Jumping Jacks
Fast feet workouts are a big part of coordination work as well. Doing alternate toe taps on a stepper is a good starting point along with jumping jacks. And if you are doing the dead bug, there is no reason to not do the bird dog: which is on all fours but almost operates on the same principles. The challenge to add? Close your eyes while doing them.

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Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator, podcaster and writer.

Also read: Debunking 5 basic myths about weightlifting



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